Paradores invest for the future

A Spanish national treasure, the paradores are a network of hotels offering unique experiences for international guests, with much of the portfolio created from historic buildings including castles and monasteries

Spain’s paradores, a national network of state-run hotels that often feature historic or culturally important buildings, are continuing to thrive. With the current pipeline of new additions, the portfolio will soon welcome its 100th property.

Guests arriving at a parador are in for a treat, as the hotels in the portfolio have often been created by converting interesting, historic buildings, including monasteries and convents, castles and fortresses. As such, they provide unique accommodation in distinctive locations. Also among the parador portfolio are a select number of more modern facilities, and these are often located in great spots affording outstanding views in natural surroundings.

Traditional hospitality

Paradores offer guests traditional Spanish cuisine, and in recent years have built up an impressive mix of events and experiences. These include wine-making and pottery workshops, and excursions in nature that even include a wolf ecology trip from the parador in Zamora. For cyclists, a programme partnering with Spanish railways has put together more than 30 routes that are easily accessed, while back at the hotel, cyclists will find facilities to make it easy to wash, service and safely store their bicycles after a day travelling through the Spanish countryside.

The company, officially Paradores de Turismo, saw EUR328m of revenues in 2023, up 6% year on year. Profits hit their highest in the organisation’s history at close to EUR25m, on average occupancy of 71%. In the first two months of 2024, occupancy of 58% was six points ahead of the previous year.

A three year plan will tackle three main issues. There is a drive to improve the company’s business processes, with a digitisation of its systems. And, despite the challenges of operating hotels in older, heritage buildings, the paradores will aim to become more accessible. Finally, a sustainability drive aims to reduce power and water use, with support in part from the European Union.

One example of the upgrade works taking place at several properties, is the recently renovated parador in the fishing port of Benicarlo near Valencia. There, a EUR2.8m refurbishment has included a redecoration and upgrades of comfort cooling in all guest rooms, and upgrades of fire protection and electrical systems. A further phase of work will involve the installation of rooftop solar PV, allowing the 106 room hotel to generate much more of its own electricity.

Adding new sites

Later in 2024, the group will open the Parador de Molina de Aragon, a new build on a site north east of Madrid that will be its 99th hotel. The 22 room hotel will offer panoramic views of the historic Molina de los Caballeros fortress, and is not far from local attractions including the Alto Tajo Natural Park.

And in 2025, two more paradores are scheduled to open. One is the first parador in the Balearics, which will be created from an old castle structure in the historical centre of Ibiza. The conversion will provide Parador de Dalt Vila with 72 bedrooms, plus meeting and convention space. Back on the mainland in Morella, a 64 room hotel is being created from historic buildings that were a convent, and a military governor’s quarters. The Parador de Morella will feature indoor and outdoor pools, gardens, and conferencing facilities.